Some conversations in life are easy to start. Such as, what do you want to be when you grow up? How was your vacation? What are your favorite hobbies?
Then there are the difficult ones. Do you know where babies come from? Why did that tragedy have to happen? Have you thought about what you want to do with your estate when you die?
When people hear the word estate, they sometimes think it means a mansion on hill or a house down by the beach. Your estate is everything you have: your house, cars, savings accounts, 401K, etc. Most people will have something to leave behind to their loved ones, but unless there is a plan, how it is distributed could end up not being what was wished.
It may feel awkward to talk to your parents or family about what will happen later in life, but it is very important. In this day and age of scams aimed at elderly people, which according to studies costs Americans over $36 billion dollars each year, it is prudent to come up with a plan.
A recent article on www.NerdWallet.com by Anna-Louise Jackson, suggested these four tips to open up the lines of communication:
1. Start with one conversation
Set up a time and date to talk about things like wills, power of attorney, funeral plans and other important legal and financial documents. Pick a day like a holiday when you are all together and do it. NerdWallet provides a check list here: www.nerdwallet.com/blog/investing/estate-planning-basics-7-step-checklist/
2. Begin with the basics
Be sensitive when starting that initial conversation. Rather than focusing on how much is in the estate, discuss where the accounts are and who has power of attorney in case of emergency. The goal is to protect everyone involved and ensure that their wishes are carried out.
3. Tackle the serious topics
Once everyone is comfortable and trust is established, discuss the topics that may be uncomfortable such as funeral arrangements and the dangerous scams to be aware of.
4. Don’t judge
The discussions may reveal some very different opinions on how to handle finances. Promise everyone that there will be no judgment. This is about what’s best for everyone and that their wishes will be carried out. A helpful list of tips on how to protect their finances is available at https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/5-ways-to-protect-your-parents-money/